As we wind our way toward upcoming MLB seasonal benchmarks like the All-Star break and trade deadline, it's time to tend to the grim business of contemplating the managerial hot seat. As such matters go, the 2023 array of skipper seats aren't particularly hot -- i.e., no manager seems to be in imminent danger of termination. Still, peer around the league and you'll find expectations that aren't being met, and that can lead to increasing temperatures. What follows, then, are seats that may not presently be all that hot but have the potential to become just that.
Abandon some -- but certainly not all -- hope, all ye who enter here.
1. Buck Showalter, Mets
Owner Steve Cohen. He's to be taken at his word, but, hey, maybe this is also the dreaded "vote of confidence" that precedes an eventual termination. Time will tell.
The reality is that the Mets are coming off a 101-win season in 2022 and presently running the highest payroll in MLB history. That comes with heavy expectations, and at this writing Showalter's Mets are 31-35 and in fourth place in the National League East (and without top hitter Pete Alonso for some time). If we get to the All-Star break and that Opening Day payroll of more than $330 million is still yielding a losing record, then Showalter might be in real trouble.
2. Oliver Marmol, Cardinals
The Cardinals have arguably been the most disappointing team in baseball this season. They notched 91 wins and the NL Central title in 2022, but in 2023 they've stumbled badly despite great deal of roster carryover. At this writing, the Cardinals are on pace for 96 losses and their worst full-season winning percentage since 1919.
As for Marmol, he's a tactically sound manager, but he's made some missteps in other areas – specifically, his Tyler O'Neill's effort level a mere five games into the season.publicly
Marmol is by all indications safe for now. The front office hired him to replace Mike Shildt in large measure because he was more willing to implement the front office's vision at an in-game level. Firing him less than two years into his tenure would be a curious look for baseball-ops president John Mozeliak. As well, a new manager this season in St. Louis would be the team's fourth since 2018, which would reflect poorly upon the front office's capacity to choose managers.
All that said, if the losses keep piling up, then the pressure will increase for Mozeliak and company to do something drastic. Fair or not, the Cardinals' decline in the field and on the bases also doesn't reflect well on Marmol.
3. Bob Melvin, Padres
This is somewhat akin to Showalter's situation in Queens. The Padres have the largest payroll in MLB outside of New York, and they've got stars up and down the roster. They made it to the NLCS last season, and this winter added the All-Star likes of Xander Bogaerts. Throw in the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. and the first full San Diego season for Juan Soto, and the Padres coming in looked like perhaps the best team in the National League. Things haven't unfurled that way.
Melvin is good manager in pretty much every regard, and there's simply no way to cast him as the problem. That said, the Padres are from meeting expectations so far, and that always puts a manager at risk, even one as good as Melvin.
4. David Ross, Cubs
It's hard to know what Ross is as a manager, at least beyond his capacity for making sound bullpen decisions. His lone playoff appearance as Cubs skipper came during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He presided over a bit of a collapse in 2021, and then he was handed a torn-down roster for 2022 and the current season. It's hard to blame the manager for the shortcomings of ownership and the front office, but that's how these things tend do.
Lead operator Jed Hoyer could decide Ross isn't the guy to lead the Cubs into what they hope is a return to contention, or Hoyer could decide Ross needs to be defenestrated in order to buy himself some more time before he perhaps faces a similar fate. It's hard to imagine an in-season move would happen unless the wheels truly come off, but it's conceivable.
5. Phil Nevin, Angels
You know the story by now. The Angels haven't managed a winning season since 2015, haven't made the playoffs since 2014, and haven't won a postseason game since 2009. This drought has occurred despite overlapping with Mike Trout's legendary peak and the multiple years of the Shohei Ohtani Experience. As for Nevin, he's led them to a 36-31 record, which puts them on pace for 87 wins. This shouldn't imperil Nevin's job, particularly in light of recent franchise standards. However, the other reality is that the Angels are 1 1/2 games out of playoff position and third in the queue for the last AL wild-card spot. That plus the general strength of the AL this year are reflected in the fact that the SportsLine Projection System right now gives the Angels just an 8.7% chance of making the playoffs. Throw in that Nevin's contract only runs through the current season, and a slide in the standings could imperil him at some point in what figures to be Ohtani's final season in Anaheim.